ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
In Cleveland's Slavic Village neighborhood, a landmark store is shutting its doors and doing something very interesting with its inventory. The store is Rudys True Value Hardware on East 71st Street. It's closing after 54 years. As for Rudy's inventory he's giving it to Greater Cleveland Habitat for Humanity.
And joining us now is Rudy Rosales, proprietor and, I'm told, local institution. Welcome to the program.
RUDY ROSALES: Thank you very much.
SIEGEL: Is it true that the first 50 years in the hardware store business are the toughest?
ROSALES: No. No.
ROSALES: It was a joy. I enjoyed every day of it.
SIEGEL: And the idea for not just closing down, but giving more than the store to Habitat for Humanity, where did that come from?
ROSALES: Well, it came from my wife originally. And I could not bear to see it auctioned off so I'd rather give it away.
SIEGEL: Couldn't bear to see it auctioned off.
ROSALES: Hmm, it just...
ROSALES: It would not be good to me.
SIEGEL: Because you feel attached to the stock or, or...
ROSALES: No, it's just to see what it would bring, you know, pennies on the dollar, I'd rather give it away.
SIEGEL: You know, it seems hardware stores it seems like such a tough business because you've got to stop all of those different things. And I assume some of them might be there for decades, I guess.
ROSALES: You are correct, yes. But we have to have it because we are known to have everything.
SIEGEL: To have everything and, I might add, a good hardware store also can answer every strange question you bring...
ROSALES: Yes, that is correct.
SIEGEL: What are the most common questions you've been asked over the years?
ROSALES: How do I unstuck my toilet or my pipe isn't working. It's just, it's un-total.
SIEGEL: You know, restaurateurs often say that everybody makes it on the drinks. Well, where does the hardware store make its money?
ROSALES: I guess our keys are the most profitable. We make an awful lot keys because we make them right. We have four key machines here, all geared to a different style key way.
SIEGEL: I saw a photograph of your desk...
ROSALES: Oh, yes.
SIEGEL: ...in The Plain Dealer. And you could have just chosen to have a big auction just for the contents of your desk...
ROSALES: No. No, that's not going.
SIEGEL: That's not going.
SIEGEL: Your contents of your desk are not going to Habitat for Humanity.
ROSALES: Oh, well, no. No, and all my books and everything here, these are all car related, car parts.
SIEGEL: Car parts.
SIEGEL: Oh, you have an auto parts store, too?
ROSALES: Yup, and we deal in Rolls-Royce parts up to 1939.
SIEGEL: So you're the guy we go to for prewar Rolls-Royce parts.
SIEGEL: Do you get a lot of business in that regard?
ROSALES: Yes, I do, all over the world.
SIEGEL: Tell me about when you started the hardware store, when this began. How old were you?
SIEGEL: Did you figure that this was going to be your life's work, running the hardware is there?
ROSALES: Yes, absolutely. I was looking for a business to get into and I thought I was pretty handy at that young age. And the fellow was looking to retire. I walked up to him, asked him if he wanted to sell a store. He looked at me. We agreed on a price. The store was mine within two weeks.
SIEGEL: And what did the store sell for back in those days?
ROSALES: It was 12,000, I believe.
SIEGEL: About $12,000.
SIEGEL: What do you tell folks when they come into say goodbye and thanks?
ROSALES: Well, I said it's been a long, you know, a long run. And we thank them for their support and that's it, shake hands and say goodbye.
SIEGEL: Well, congratulations on quite a long run, more than half a century in the hardware store business. Mr. Rosales, it's been great talking with you.
ROSALES: Thank you very much.
SIEGEL: That's Rudy Rosales whose store, Rudys True Value Hardware store on East 71st Street in Slavic Village in Cleveland, is shutting down this week after 54 years.
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